Friday October 15, 2021

Water shortage in Shamozai distributary worries farmers

PESHAWAR: Thousands of farmers are seriously worried about their cash crops, particularly sugarcane, as water supply from the Shamozai distributary of Machi Branch, Upper Swat canal, has drastically been reduced, and demanded Chief Minister Mahmood Khan to take note of the issue.

Chief Minister Mahmood Khan is also holding the portfolio of Irrigation Department. The farmers had been complaining for the past few weeks after water supply was reduced in the canal, making it difficult for them to irrigate their crops, particularly sugarcane that requires enough water in summer.

They went from pillar to post but could not get the attention of the officials of the Irrigation Department. The farmers wanted to send a delegation to Peshawar and apprise Mahmood Khan of their agonies, but they were not able to get an appointment with the chief minister.

The water supply scheme was established several decades ago for irrigating 7,000 acres of land of dozens of villages in Mardan district, including Tazagram, Qasami, Alo, Lakpani, Dheri, Shamozai, Matta, etc.

Some of the major crops cultivated on the fertile land of these villages are sugarcane, wheat, maize, vegetables and orchards.

The distributary supplied irrigation water to the land of aforementioned villages of the area without any problem to the landowners for the last several decades.

A private hydropower plant has been established at Tazagram village opposite the Shamozai Distributary Head Regulator, thereby considerably reducing water supply in the said distributary.

As a consequence, thereof, both the Rabi and Kharif crops production has been severely affected to the detriments of poor farmers of the area. Needless to mention that the canal system is meant for irrigation purposes and not for power generation. Also, agriculture is the sole source of livelihood for the farmers of the area.

In the recent past, at the request of affected farmers, the chief engineer (north) irrigation, KP accompanied by S.E. Mardan Irrigation Circle and XEN Irrigation Division, Malakand, visited and inspected the site. They were fully apprised of the woes by the farmers of the area.

The irrigation high-ups listened to their problems patiently and assured them to resolve the issue expeditiously.

In wake of the dire need of water for the standing crops, the farmers sought attention of the provincial government to look into the matter and resolve the problem by rehabilitating the Shamozai distributary so as to ensure the design discharge in it and save the poor farmers from financial distress.